Eating Away Again in Margheritaville: Pizza Margherita

I like pizza well enough, but despite living in the land of the deep dish (Chicago, not Detroit.  Did you know Detroit has deep dish? I just found that out.  Nice try, Michigan), I don’t eat it very often.  When I do, I like it thin and load on the toppings: sausage, mushrooms, spinach, roasted veggies…really anything’s game except for green peppers.  To be honest my absolute favorite is barbecued chicken, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that’s not an Italian original. What is an Italian original, a Southern Italian original at that, is Pizza Margherita pizza, so that’s what I present to you today.

 

pizza1

 

According to Italy Magazine, way back in 1889, 28 years after the unification of Italy, during a visit to Naples, Queen Margherita of Savoy and chef Raffaele Esposito of Pizzeria Brandi and his wife created  a pizza resembling the colors of the Italian flag, red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil). They named it after the Queen – Pizza Margherita.  However, this recipe can can be traced back even further to at least 1866.  Talk about a recipe that has been handed down for generations!

Everything about this was easy, including the homemade crust. Altogether, prep and cooking took a little over an hour, giving me just enough time to scrub the kitchen floors. It’s all about multitasking in the Buddha household.

One caveat I wasn’t a purist, and found the final product needed a little zing. Therefore, I drizzled a balsamic glaze/dressing over it and it was the perfect finishing touch. So, I guess this was almost Margherita pizza.

 

Makes 2, really large thin crusts.  This probably serves 4 realistically, but it fed 2 in my household (me and Tomato). We eat a lot.

Ingredients

For the crust (adapted from 100 Days of Real Food):

½  cup warm water

1 tsp active dry yeast

1 tsp kosher salt

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

Cornmeal for dusting

Toppings:

1 cup canned, chopped plum San Marzano tomatoes

½ lb fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

6 basil leaves, torn or ribboned

For my additional balsamic glaze

1 tsp honey

1 TB Dijon mustard

2 TB balsamic vinegar

1 tsp garlic, crushed or ground into a paste

Salt and pepper

Directions

1.  Make the crust.  Drop the yeast into the warm water and let it go to work for a few minutes. It should foam up a little bit. Stir the salt into the yeast mixture.

2.  Pour the flour and yeast mixture into a food processor with a dough blade or into a mixer with a dough hook and turn on the machine. (You can also mix up this dough by hand.)

3.  You should end up with a ball chasing itself around the food processor. If the dough is too dry add warm water a teaspoon at a time and if it is too wet add flour 1 teaspoon at a time.

4.  Remove the ball from your food processor and knead into a smooth ball. Put the dough into a large Ziploc bag or bowl covered with plastic wrap (put a touch of olive oil in and coat the inside of the bag/bowl first) then leave it in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour.  Meanwhile, make the glaze:

Add all the ingredients to a glass jar. Screw the lid and shake until all combined. If you wanted to make this a salad dressing,

add 3-4 TB olive oil.

5.  When ready to make the pizza preheat the oven to 500F. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into the desired shape (don’t make it too thin!) on a surface coated in cornmeal. Put the flat pizza dough on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking oil. Top the dough with the tomatoes and cheese.

6.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the crust is crisp and the cheese is bubbling.  Sprinkle with the basil and drizzle with the glaze.

 

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Eat up!

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